Leave the car to dis­cover your area

How well do you re­ally know your neigh­bour­hood? Erin Reilly has some sug­ges­tions on how you can im­prove your knowl­edge.

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER -

The other day I went for a bush walk in a re­serve that I had no idea ex­isted.

The worst thing was that I had lived lit­er­ally just around the cor­ner from this beau­ti­ful spot for four years; our apart­ment had views over the top of the trees I walked be­neath.

This got me think­ing. How well do we re­ally know our neigh­bour­hoods? It’s pos­si­ble that I’m an anom­aly here, but I would sug­gest that it’s com­mon to get so caught up in the day-to-day of life that we’re some­times blinded to what’s around us.

Work stresses, com­mut­ing times, money wor­ries and fam­ily dra­mas all com­pete for our at­ten­tion, and some­times it’s just eas­ier to blob out in front of the telly in­stead of con­nect­ing with our com­mu­ni­ties.

If I had wings, I’m sure I would have dis­cov­ered this re­serve. I don’t. What I do have, though, is Google Maps. Ex­am­in­ing a map of your lo­cal area is a great way to find your feet, es­pe­cially if you’ve just moved there. See a mass of green? It’s prob­a­bly a park. See some blue? That’s wa­ter of some de­scrip­tion. Zoom in to find where walk­ways start and where the eas­i­est place to park is.

Which brings me to my next point. Leave the car at home. The eas­i­est way to dis­cover hid­den trea­sures in your neigh­bour­hood is to ex­plore it by foot. Use your morn­ings or evenings to blow out the cob­webs by wan­der­ing the streets and meet­ing your neigh­bours while get­ting the heart rate up at the same time.

You might stum­ble across hid­den parks or se­cret walk­ways be­tween streets, free-for-all fruit trees or a com­mu­nity gar­den, or a group of ‘‘non-run­ners’’ train­ing for a half-marathon to­gether. Th­ese are the kinds of things that don’t ap­pear on Google Maps, but are in­dica­tive of a strong and con­nected neigh­bour­hood. Next time you’re in­vited to a quiz night, go. At­tend­ing a com­mu­nity event is the eas­i­est way to meet peo­ple and feel con­nected. Schools and lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions are the back­bone of any com­mu­nity, so if there’s an op­por­tu­nity to help them out, take it.

Of course, just turn­ing up to com­mu­nity events when you don’t know any­one can be daunt­ing. That’s why a plat­form like Neigh­bourly is so great. Con­nect with your neigh­bours, find out about up­com­ing events, dis­cover free-for-all fruit trees, com­mu­nity gar­dens or ‘‘non­run­ner’’ run­ning clubs, and put names to the faces of the peo­ple you see over the fence. And the best bit is it’s to­tally free and safe; only peo­ple who live nearby and are ad­dress-ver­i­fied can ac­cess your neigh­bour­hood’s Neigh­bourly page.

Life is for liv­ing, not for pass­ing you by. Get in­volved in your com­mu­nity and make a dif­fer­ence to your­self and the peo­ple around you.

123RF

Check out Google Maps to find great walks in your neigh­bour­hood.

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